Author: Deborah Bach for Microsoft/ Features
For years, Merlyne Graves spent several hours every weekend reading text aloud and recording it for her students who struggled with reading.
Graves, a fourth-grade English language arts teacher at Garfield Preparatory Academy in Washington, D.C., would line up 10 unused iPods she borrowed from the school, then read and record the text her class would work on the following week. Her improvised method helped introduce struggling readers to the text, but it was time-consuming and limited.
That changed last December, when Graves got a
and tapped into Microsoft's online educator community. She discovered Microsoft
, a set of free features created to help improve reading and writing, especially for people with learning disorders such as dyslexia and dysgraphia.
, the tools' main feature, allows users to have content read aloud to them, change text size and background color, break words into syllables, increase space between letters, highlight one or more lines of text and highlight parts of speech.
Graves immediately knew she'd found exactly what her students needed. "I thought, 'This is going to be so awesome for my kids who struggle,'" she said.
After just a few weeks of using Immersive Reader in her classroom, Graves noticed an improvement in her students' reading. Struggling readers showed better fluency - reading quickly and accurately with proper expression - and stronger readers were able to focus on inferencing and higher-order thinking, she said.
"I've noticed a change in a lot of their reading," she said. "It is definitely making a difference."
Or connect with one of the ILTPP
resellers for more information on the Surface Pro and Immersive Reader technology.